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Out Here: Watching my speed

Banning ticket quotas may mean less productivity

Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 8:34 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:51 p.m. CDT

I have received my share of speeding tickets. Earlier this year, I had thought I was getting better at watching my speed.

My confidence, though, was shaken on March 17 when a cop near Marengo pulled me over. He clocked me going 11 mph over the limit on a rural highway. He warned me that a lot of officers were on patrol that night because of the Irish celebration.

About 7 a.m. on a Sunday in September 2011, a police officer caught me going over the limit on Rollins Road in Fox Lake. I was headed to a 5k in Round Lake. Had I thought the race already started?

Many otherwise law-abiding citizens are caught speeding or committing other traffic infractions, which is probably the most common contact people have with the police.

When you are stopped, do you ever think that the cops should be spending their time catching the “real” criminals?

I have.

Keep in mind, though, that cops nab many bad guys while making seemingly routine traffic stops.

Have you ever thought that an officer is stopping you because he has to meet a quota to bring in money?

I have.

Maybe it’s true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a police department that admits to it.

Even so, if you were exceeding the speed limit, you opened yourself up to a ticket.

Besides, we have traffic laws for a reason – to keep people safe. Really.

Do you really gain that much when you speed? Sometimes it’s psychological. You’re behind a semi, which seems to hold you back from your destination. You finally find a chance to pass it. But on the other side, you encounter other cars going the speed limit. And you can’t pass them.

I’ve seen many speedsters do this. I’ve been guilty of the same, though I watch my speed more closely these days. I’ve become more self-aware.

Recently, the legislature passed a bill banning ticket quotas. It would prohibit police departments from considering the numbers of tickets issued in officers’ performance evaluations.

The House overwhelmingly approved the legislation, and it sailed through the Senate with just one dissenting vote, Republican Tim Bivins of Dixon, a retired sheriff.

Now, the bill sits on the governor’s desk.

It’s an election year. Think he’ll sign it?

Outright quotas, to be sure, are probably bad public policy.

But Fox Lake police Lt. Mark Schindler made a good point when I asked him about the bill. He said he feared some officers would use it as an excuse not to do their jobs. Say, for instance, that one traffic cop issued 100 tickets in a year, while another cited just one.

Under the bill, a department could not use that as a factor in evaluating an officer’s performance. Such a law might discourage productivity, precisely what the taxpayers don’t want.

‘The Internet won’t let us forget it’

When you think of Mexican food, does Taco Bell come to mind? It apparently did for the people of Rockford – 8 years ago.

Making the rounds on the Internet recently is a picture of a Taco Bell billboard touting that it was voted “Rockford’s No. 1 Mexican Restaurant,” according to a reader’s poll by the Rockford Register Star.

It periodically resurfaces, bringing much scorn.

But in defense of Rockford – I grew up there – the readers only chose Taco Bell once.

A couple of years ago, Kevin Haas of the Register Star addressed the issue in his column.

“Six years ago, readers picked Taco Bell as their favorite Mexican restaurant in the Rock River Valley. The Internet won’t let us forget it,” he wrote. “Those who feel local restaurants or more authentic joints should win have no need to fret: They did in almost every other year.”

Around here, do you have a favorite Mexican restaurant? Is it Taco Bell?

David Giuliani is news editor of Lake County Suburban Life. He may be reached at 847-231-7524 or dgiuliani@shawmedia.com.

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